by Airman 1st Class Tammie Ramsouer
JBER Public Affairs
3/19/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The
annual Army Emergency Relief campaign began accepting donations from
military members, retirees and their family members March 1.
The Air Force Assistance Fund follows suit March 23.
The campaigns educate individuals working and living throughout Joint
Base Elmendorf-Richardson about the programs, who the programs support,
and gather charitable donations.
Both provide financial assistance, such as grants and loans, to service members and their families in need.
The programs also offer scholarship opportunities military dependents
who would like to either go back to college or further their education.
"AER provides financial assistance to Soldiers and their families who
experience unexpected financial hardships," said Salafai Ieremia, AER
"Every case is different, as [is] the assistance we provide through
interest-free loans, grants or both. The decision on what the Soldier
and their family needs is determined by the situation."
The AFAF provides similar assistance to Airmen and their family members in need.
"The AFAF is more than just loans and grants," said Senior Master Sgt.
David Boerman, 673d Civil Engineer Squadron superintendent.
"It is a program that supports other programs such as the Air Force Aid
Society, which offers emergency assistance for such things as vehicles,
emergency travel, child care and other immediate life requirements Air
Force members may need."
One Airman had many things happen to her all at once without any savings to cover the mishaps.
"My car, furnace and refrigerator all broke within two weeks of each
other," said Tech. Sgt. Nora Housey, 673d Force Support Squadron
noncommissioned officer in charge of personnel readiness. "I didn't have
enough money to fix all of them at once, so I went to the AFAS for
Housey - who remembered how helpful using the program was years before this situation - saw an opportunity to use it again.
"It definitely helped me out a lot," Housey said. "It's an interest-free
loan and the payments are taken directly out of my paycheck, so I
didn't have to worry about missed payments."
Housey said if she had not gone to the AFAS for the loan, she would have been without heat, transportation, or food.
"I am very thankful for this program and the assistance it provides
military members," she said. "I highly recommend anyone use it if they
ever find themselves in a difficult situation."
Deana Ray benefited from the AER while her family was having a hard time
paying bills; her husband, John Ray, is a retiree from both the U.S.
Marine Corps and Army after 21 years of service.
"I lost my job six months before going to the AER for help, due to an injury in my back and legs," Deana said.
"My husband was trying his best to pay the bills on his own, but they
kept piling up and we didn't have much left for food at the end of the
That's when she decided to go the AER for help.
"AER has been there for us four different times and has never turned us down," Deana said.
"AER is a wonderful organization and really helps the military and their
families. We need to teach Soldiers that there is a place for them to
go if they get financially stuck and need help.
The AER is here to help them."
The programs try to reach their fundraising goal during their campaigns
to assist people like Housey and Ray when they need the help most.
There are only slight differences between the AER and AFAF programs while they raise money during their campaigns.
"Only those who can potentially use the AFAF program can be solicited to
donate during the campaign," Boerman said. "But anyone can donate."
Anyone can donate to the AER campaign, Ieremia said.
There is no set amount of money for individuals to donate during either campaign.
"There are two ways to contribute to the AFAF," Boerman said. "Allotments and cash - cash [meaning] U.S. currency."
Cash, check or allotments are the only methods for donating to AER,
Ieremia said. For retirees, checks, allotments and credit card payments
online are available at the AER website.
"If civilians overheard our campaigns were happening and wanted to
donate, it would be by check or by credit card on the website as well,"